Book Reviews

Water, Wood & Wild Things Review: A Beautiful Book About The Yamanaka Way Of Life

In Japan, there are many remote places worlds away from the bustling megacities of Tokyo and Kyoto. The town of Yamanaka in Ishikawa Prefecture is one such place and writer Hannah Kirshner reveals the intimate details of this mountainous town in Water, Wood & Wild Things: Learning Craft And Cultivation In A Japanese Mountain Town. 

Lyrical, vivid and beautiful, Kirshner’s book is a window into a part of Japan that few have explored in literature and from the very first page, you’ll be transported to Yamanaka and feel right at home.

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Book Reviews

Why Be Happy? Review: A Resonant Book That Delves Into The Concept Of Acceptance In Japan

Why Be Happy? by Scott Haas.

What do we mean by acceptance? Is it the avoidance of conflict? The understanding that some events are simply beyond our control? Is it the resignation that certain things won’t change? These kinds of questions are asked everyday all over the world and every culture has their own take on what acceptance means.

In Japan, ukeireru is a type of acceptance that the Japanese embrace and Scott Haas is interested in peering behind the curtain to see what exactly it means. In Why Be Happy?The Japanese Way of Acceptance, Haas explores the concept of ukeireru, what it truly means to accept something and how the power of acceptance can help to build a happier and healthier life. 

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Book Reviews

The Japanese Sake Bible Review: Comprehensive, Entertaining And Unputdownable

The Japanese Sake Bible.

Sake is the heart of Japan. It’s magical, mystical and historically rich. It tells of stories that are thousands of years old and the tireless efforts of master craftsmen brewing fantastic booze. It’s a bridge between worlds, connecting western drinkers with a beverage that opens up a whole new world of drinking opportunities. It’s transformative, always changing, altering perceptions wherever it’s experienced.  

Sake is all of these things and more. Brian Ashcraft’s The Japanese Sake Bible does an exceptional job of capturing all the qualities that make nihonshu one of the most diverse and exciting drinks in the world. Chock full of detail from leading sake brewers and poetic tasting notes, The Japanese Sake Bible is perfect for anyone who wants to worship at the altar of nihonshu.

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Book Reviews

Forest Bathing: The Rejuvenating Practice Of Shinrin Yoku Review: Forging A Positive Mental Health Routine With Nature

Forest Bathing book.

Having a connection to nature is a feeling that’s as old as the human race. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived in harmony with the land and relied on it for food, shelter and warmth. But as we’ve built more cities and created new technology, our connection to nature is no longer what it used to be.

Rediscovering that bond is a therapeutic practice, as presented in Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles’ Forest Bathing: The Rejuvenating Practice of Shinrin Yoku. This book delves into the Japanese concept of forest bathing, providing helpful tips on how to embrace the natural world and building it into a positive mental health routine.

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Book Reviews

Men Without Women Review: Haunting, Beautiful, Playful And Relatable

Haruki Murakami is arguably the most well-known Japanese author for western audiences. With a writing career that spans over forty years, Murakami has been delighting readers for decades with his signature surrealist humour and bittersweet reflection on the transience of life. 

While Murakami has written some wonderful novels, I’ve found myself gravitating towards his short stories lately. One of his most memorable collections is Men Without Women, a poignant series of short stories that delves into the concept of loneliness and what it means for different people. 

In the absence of female company, all of the men in this collection have lost something. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s obvious. The reader feels it in every word and that is Murakami’s talent on full display.

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Book Reviews

Brian Ashcraft’s Japanese Whisky Guide Is A Must-Read Book For Whisky Lovers

It’s no secret that Japanese whisky has taken the world by storm, regularly fetching high prices at auctions and earning award after award, captivating the hearts and bank accounts of whisky lovers from all walks of life. But this wasn’t always the case.

There was a time not so long ago when Japanese whisky was looked down on as inferior to other whisky varieties like scotch and bourbon. So, what changed? The answers can be found in Brian Ashcraft’s brilliant Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide To The World’s Most Desirable Spirit.

Packed full of insight and history, this is a must-read book for anyone with even a passing interest in whisky and Japanese culture.

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Book Reviews

Koji Alchemy Review: A Book That Will Change Your Perception Of Mould

Koji Alchemy by Rich Shih and Jeremy Umansky.

Food and drink have the power to be transformative, whether it’s through unearthing a new culture, or the simple joy of spending time with friends and family. That sense of magic can be felt in certain ingredients and transform how we look at categories such as mould. Koji is exactly the kind of magical substance that will change your perception of how a mould is used in food and drink.

Koji Alchemy, written by Rich Shih and Jeremy Umansky, is a comprehensive guide on understanding what makes koji so versatile. From delving into the history of different strains, to offering one-of-a-kind recipes, Koji Alchemy is a must-read book for chefs, fermentation enthusiasts and anyone who’d like to expand their knowledge on an ingredient that’s ushering in a new wave of innovation.

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Book Reviews

The Tokyo Travel Sketchbook Review: Capturing The Contradictory Nature Of Japan

The Tokyo Travel Sketchbook by Amaia Arrazola takes the reader on an artistic journey through Tokyo.

From writers to artists, Japan has a history of inspiring creatives to bring a new dimension to their work. When Spanish artist Amaia Arrazola took up an art residency in Tokyo, she was inspired to create an entire art portfolio after spending a month in Japan’s capital. The Tokyo Travel Sketchbook: Kawaii Culture, Wabi Sabi Design, Female Samurais and Other Obsessions is the fruit of Arrazola’s labour. Continue reading “The Tokyo Travel Sketchbook Review: Capturing The Contradictory Nature Of Japan”

Book Reviews

Kaizen: The Japanese Method Of Transforming Habits One Small Step At A Time Review: Insightful And Resonant

Kaizen by Sarah Harvey is an insightful and resonant self-help book.


In recent years, Japanese philosophy has had a profound effect on the West. Practices such as ikigai and yugen have become popular for developing a positive mental health routine. Yet one of the earliest Japanese practices to take off in the West happened to be an amalgamation of both cultures called kaizen.

A Japanese noun for ‘improvement,’ kaizen is all about making continuous change throughout life. In Kaizen: The Japanese Method Of Transforming Habits One Small Step at a Time, Sarah Harvey explores the practice in great detail. But rather than just being a typical self-help book, Harvey goes deeper by examining the history of kaizen and introducing psychological theory as well. Continue reading “Kaizen: The Japanese Method Of Transforming Habits One Small Step At A Time Review: Insightful And Resonant”

Book Reviews · Japanese Cuisine

The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook Review: An Excellent Book To Have In Your Kitchen

The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook has loads of amazing recipes for people who want to cook Japanese food at home.

Japanese cooking features some of the most enjoyable ingredients on the planet and an izakaya is one of the best places to enjoy traditional Japanese fare. Famous for a small-plate style of serving, izakayas are a wonderful place to share a meal with friends and family.

The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook, written by Wataru Yokota, takes the reader on a journey through 120 classic izakaya dishes that can be cooked from home. Continue reading “The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook Review: An Excellent Book To Have In Your Kitchen”